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“How can I become a farmer?” someone recently asked us. Well, if you have dirt and can put a lettuce or tomato or carrot seed in it, you can become a farmer. It’s that easy.
However, growing food is also a science and art that can be learned and honed. That’s what this course is about: learning the science and art of growing food that truly nourishes body, soul, and soil. Here’s what the Bionutrient Food Association says about the course:
They do have scholarships, so don’t let the money deter you. We have hostel type housing on-site, so don’t let that deter you. This is a great course for beginners and seasoned growers alike as Dan Kitteredge is a wealth of information and a down to earth communicator. If you can’t attend our class, look for one near you. It’s an opportunity that’s not to be missed!
Last night we attended a seed saving class taught by Craig Schaaf. In all the seed information, Craig slipped in some great soil information. As a seed saver, the mineralization of his soil is very important. A well mineralized plant is one that is grown in soil with plenty of trace minerals–not just the potassium, nitrogen, and phosphorus that concerns most gardeners or farmers. A well mineralized plant is healthier, more disease and pest resistant, and produces a stronger seed. It’s fruit or produce tastes better and will keep longer. He recommends testing your soil through a lab like Biosystems: Soil testing and consultation services, who can do a trace mineral analysis for you. Trace minerals are the minute but essential nutrients a soil needs to have healthy flora (good bacterias and funguses) and fauna (worms, nematodes, etc.) that in turn help plants to grow strong, resilient, and productive.Kelp is Craig’s recommended all-purpose amendment. It contains about 60 trace minerals, all of which are readily available to the soil life and your plants.
One mineral tip Craig shared concerned heavy, clumpy clay soils. Michigan has clay areas interspersed with sandy stretches, so this is an issue here. When we were in Montana we encountered “gumbo.” That’s the heavy, clumpy soil that defines such soil. It is the stuff that gives you platform shoes on a rainy day. What this soil type is strong in is magnesium. That is a binding mineral. Calcium is the antidote mineral. They have the same polarity (and therefore attractiveness), but calcium is stronger and therefore limits the binding action of the magnesium. This is an example of how knowing the mineralization of your soil can make a huge difference in your garden.
Thought for the day: “The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you will make one.” Elbert Hubbard
Remember, Anyone Can Farm!
Mark brought home the first installment of bunkbeds for the Bunkhouse. The guys set them up this morning and they look great! We are excited to have people come and stay with us.
Sam and Joe would like you to think that they worked so hard setting up the new bunkbeds that they had to nap. They report the beds are comfortable and those who stay in the Bunkhouse will appreciate them. Especially after a hard day of making biochar, working in soil, or building a chicken tractor. We still have room in the Biochar, Soils and Permaculture, and Pastured Poultry classes. The Hog Harvest classes are a ways off, but it can’t hurt to plan ahead as that’s a popular class. Sign up today to get your spot!
Yesterday we enjoyed an afternoon in Cadillac, sitting by the lake, chatting with passersby. It was the kick-off for Transition Cadillac’s “200 Yarden Dash.”
I saw a couple clever ideas I thought I’d share. Vickie Purkiss was demonstrating this modified raised bed. It’s made from hay, although she said straw was recommended. She added the dirt and compost mixture a couple of inches deep. Then she planted the cabbages into the dirt. The plants were wilty because they were in a cold breeze and weren’t used to the outdoors, but she said she’d had good success with this method before.
These are very basic outdoor plant beds. One lady I talked to lives in an apartment, but wants to grow more of her family’s food. They have a small yard and are going to have a few rabbits and use one or two of these beds for vegetables. They won’t have to dig up the yard for their garden, and the beds are easily mobile when they move.
The class that seemed most appropriate for many people just starting out was the Soils and Permaculture Class. Soil is so basic to any food enterprise, whether it’s vegetables or animals. It’s important to learn about managing it well no matter what you want to do. Permaculture is a fancy word for getting an overview of your property/area and figuring out how to manage it as naturally as possible. This class is a good overview and basic skills primer for all the other classes. Plus, you can see how we use it with both plants and animals and can figure out how, say, 5 layer hens in your backyard can be used to benefit your lettuce and beans or begonias. It’s a great beginner class, but I’m looking forward to it as well. You can follow the link to learn more about it, and sign up with “buy now” button.
Hope these ideas help spark some thoughts on how you might “farm!”
More in a garden grows than what the gardener sows.~Spanish proverb
Our children like to help us in the garden. Really. When they are about 2-4 years old. That’s the age when they plant corn seeds in the green bean bed, hoe up the fledgling lettuce, and weed out the carrots by the handful. They aren’t exactly helpful, but as they tend my garden I am planting seeds that I plan to cultivate over the seasons. These little starts will bear fruit eventually.
I know this because I see it when I look at their healthy little bodies. I know it when they proudly serve their Dad the carrots or zucchini they helped pick for supper. I know it when they distinguish between cucumbers and pickles. I know it when the older children team up to make sure the green beans get picked and ready to can so we can eat them in the winter.
We’ve found that some of our most enthusiastic visiting helpers are kids. They are curious about life. They are able to really do things and understand that what they are handling–plant or animal–is life, is food, is a part of things. Kids love life. They like to help with the baby animals. They enjoy learning where the food on their plate comes from. They even often like the processing, seeing how an animal is put together, how it works, why it does what it does.
Some of the lessons in Nature’s garden aren’t so enjoyable. Perseverance when you face of a row of weeds. Gentleness when you’re in a hurry to move the chicks. Patience when the calf won’t suck off the bottle right and butts you in the stomach and slobbers all over your back. Courage when the chickens you tended twice a day for two months have to be slaughtered. Compassion when the family dog is old and sick and suffering and needs to be let go. Self-control when the pigs get out for the third time and won’t go back in. These are the hard lessons.
Our children are our future and the investments we make in them by connecting them to their food is beyond measure. Even if it’s just a planter or two, or only for a season, the experience of growing and eating real food plants seeds beyond lettuce and tomatoes. We feel strongly about this and invite kids who are capable to attend Anyone Can Farm classes. We want to grow farmers!
Contact us if you are interested in bringing your children along with you. Help make this available to the next generation by sponsoring someone on this website or through our Indiegogo Challenge. Thank-you in advance for investing in the next generation of food producers!